Founders & Affilate Planters
Spreading Hope Network forges a retainer-based relationship with founder schools seeking to learn from and contextualize our model. We select up to three founders each year, and are seeking candidates for 2024 and beyond. Meet our founders below.
We also work with affiliate planters (listed below) – leaders of recently launched (or launching) schools with strong missional alignment. All founders and affilate planters have joined us for a Hope Plunge.
The district school | Washington, D.C. | Launching Fall 2024
Jacquie Pratt-Tuke began her career in education in 2007 teaching biology at Dunbar Senior High School. She spent five years teaching and leading with KIPP DC and then joined as Senior Director of Secondary Partnerships with Flamboyan Foundation. In addition to helping launch The District School, she also serves as Chief of Staff and Engagement Director with Mission Squared.
She has her M.Ed. in Educational Leadership from High Tech High Graduate School of Education (San Diego), and a Masters of Arts in Teaching from American University (D.C.). Jacquie and her husband are members of Grace DC Downtown, where she serves as a deacon and helps lead Bible studies.
Summit christian school | Menomonie, WI | Launching Fall 2024
Jennie, a longtime public school educator in western Wisconsin, aims to create a K-8 school that combines classical Christian and project-based learning models and is accessible to low-income families. Service learning projects will be part of the curriculum.
Adia Garrick Wells
IGNITE CLASSICAL SCHOOL | Shreveport, LA | Launched Fall 2022
Adia Garrick Wells has worked in education since 2011 after completing four years of medical school. She previously worked at Esperanza College of Eastern University as a department head responsible for staffing, curriculum, student recruitment and retention and also worked as a Clinician/Behavioral Health counseling children in Kindergarten through age 19 in the Philadelphia School System.
In 2017, Adia began dreaming of starting a God-centered school, and has since taught 6th grade in a Christian classical school, and has also served as a Special Education instructor for grades K-3 in the Shreveport Public Schools, completing all necessary state certification requirements.
She is currently enrolled in a doctoral program in Christian Education at Southeastern Baptist Seminary. Adia and her husband Robert have been married for five years and are members of Springs of Grace Baptist Church. The have one son. In addition to being a Founder with the Spreading Hope Network, she has been selected as a Founder with the Drexel Fund.
KENOSHA CHRISTIAN ACADEMY | Kenosha, WI | Launched Fall 2022
Justin has been a Pastoral Resident for Church Planting with Crossway Community Church since 2017. In 2019, Justin and his wife Catherine moved into the Wilson Heights Neighborhood in Kenosha, WI, and lead an after-school program at Wilson Heights. As they built a network of volunteers to serve the spiritual, relational, and educational needs of students and families, they began to see that a school would provide an unparalleled opportunity to holistically meet the needs of their community. He possesses a sense of calling to make this vision accessible to all children, regardless of financial means. This vision and calling led him to found Kenosha Christian Academy for his neighbors’ children.
Justin earned a B.A. in prelaw from Cedarville University, an M.Div. from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and is accepted to the master’s in educational leadership program at Gordon College. He and his wife Catherine currently have two children, Peter and Avery.
ECCLESIAL SCHOOLS INITIATIVE | Orlando, FL | Launched fall 2020
An experienced Christian educator and recognized academic leader, Kevin is captivated by a vision of a flourishing human life—a life characterized by knowledge and discernment, fruitful and dignified work, and humble service undertaken for the common good. He possesses a sense of calling to make this vision accessible to all children, regardless of financial means. This vision and calling led him to found The Ecclesial Schools initiative, a network of financially accessible private Christian schools serving families in the Orlando metro area. The first campus, St. Alban’s Ecclesial School, opened in the fall of 2020.
Kevin brings over 17 years of experience to this founding endeavor, including 15 years at The Geneva School in Winter Park, Fla., where he served as an upper school faculty member and academic dean. At the national level, he serves as a fellow for The Society for Classical Learning, a board member of the Anglican Schools Association, and a teaching fellow for the M.A. in Classical Teaching at Eastern University’s Templeton Honors College.
Kevin earned a B.A. from the University of Central Florida, an M.A. from Reformed Theological Seminary, and a DLS from Georgetown University, where he wrote on liberal arts education and interdisciplinary practice. He is the coauthor of the book, The Liberal Arts Tradition: A Philosophy of Christian Classical Education. In addition to being a Founder with the Spreading Hope Network, he has been selected as a Founder with the Drexel Fund.
HOPE PREPARATORY SCHOOL | Kinston, NC | Launched fall 2019
Hope Preparatory School exists to make a classical Christian education of the highest quality available and accessible to all families in Kinston, regardless of income.
Diane Spear has been a pioneer of classical education in Eastern North Carolina through Classical Conversations. She has developed a passion for Christ-centered classical education over 12 years of educating with this time-proven method. She currently teaches Latin and Bible at Christ Covenant School of Winterville, NC, and loves working with students and parents in Christian community to help children realize their remarkable potential as image-bearers of God.
She came to Kinston to work for Perry, Perry, Perry, & Grigg and married Kinston native, Gram Spear, with whom she has been blessed to raise four children over the past 25 years.
Gram and Diane were founding members of Grace Fellowship Church and continue to be active in serving their church and their beloved Kinston to elevate the welfare of this community.
Hope Preparatory School is located in a neighborhood church facility. Launched in August 2019 with ~20 students in grades K–2, Hope Preparatory School will add a grade level each year, through grade 6, with hopes of going beyond. Diane is joined by a gifted launch team and a board of directors, led by Pastor John Flowers, Jr., and an advisory board including Jimbo and Joan Perry.
Diane graduated from Baylor University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science and Slavic Studies. She also worked as a legislative assistant for U.S. Congressman Bill Archer of Houston, Texas, and attended Baylor School of Law.
GARDEN Christian Academy | Cleveland, OH | Launched fall 2019
Garden Christian Academy (GCA) is a classical Christian school focused on the cultivation of wisdom and virtue in its students, expressed through Christian character and a Biblical worldview.
In March 2012, Danielle and her family relocated to Cleveland’s diverse Clark-Fulton neighborhood to found an intentional Christian community called Ephraim House. This experience combined with the four years that Danielle spent teaching ESL at the local public school where she focused on serving immigrants and refugees, brought the particular needs of her community into clearer focus. GCA will offer the high-quality, Christian education that she desires for her own children to the local community.
As GCA’s lead founder, Danielle believes that an academically robust, Christ-centered education can transform the safety, welfare, health, and prosperity of her underserved community. Located on the five-building campus of a multi-organization outreach hub called The Family Ministry Center, GCA aims to collaborate with the nonprofit partners of The Family Ministry Center in order to offer holistic supports to students and their families. This includes counseling and mental health services, as well as tutoring, nutritional advocacy, and arts education. Garden Christian Academy launched in August 2019 with grades K–2, and will add a grade level each year, through grade 12.
Danielle and her husband, Stephen, have gathered a gifted launch team, as well as a board of directors bringing broad expertise led by Julie and Ed Huck.
Danielle earned a B.A. from Miami University and a M.Ed. from Cleveland State University with concentrations in urban education and TESOL. In addition to the Spreading Hope Network, she was accepted by The Drexel Fund as part of their Founders Program.
ST. PAUL’S COMMUNITY SCHOOL | Oklahoma City, OK | Launched fall 2019
St. Paul’s Community School exists to partner with families and churches in the work of nurturing wise, virtuous and skilled students who will use their God-given abilities to bless people for the glory of Jesus Christ and the flourishing of South Oklahoma City.
Morgan Shillow has been part of the South OKC community since she was nine years old. Her husband Chauncey serves as a pastor at Christ Community Church and they have one son, Joshua Moses. Morgan graduated from the University of Central Oklahoma with a B.A. in Elementary Education and is studying Christian Ministry at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Before the call to start St. Paul’s, she worked for Santa Fe South schools both as an administrative assistant and fourth grade teacher.
Morgan was initially joined on the launch team by Abby Anderson, Director of Advancement, and a gifted and passionate board, led by founding board chair John-Mark Hart, and including Fr. Nathan Carr, Head of School of The Academy of Classical Christian Studies. They believe that the very best education must be accessible to all.
St Paul’s Community School launched in August 2019 and is located in a neighborhood church space. St. Paul’s aims to add a grade level each year, through grade 8.
Harbor Christian Academy | Houston, TX | Launched fall 2018
Harbor Christian Academy exists to provide a remarkable Christ-centered education in two of the most historically underserved communities in Houston.
Roosevelt Wilson served from 2017-2022 with Harbor Christian Academy, before pursuing another Kingdom assignment
In 2017, Roosevelt Wilson responded to the call to help found Harbor Christian Academy, after serving in the Spring Independent School District, where he served as principal his final five years and assistant principal for four years prior. He also has six years of experience as a classroom teacher.
He is husband to Octavia, who teaches first grade at HCA, and is the proud father of four adult children.
The school is located in a newly remodeled education wing of Faith Memorial Baptist Church, and launched in 2018 with 14 students in grades K–2, and adding a grade level each year, through grade 12. Roosevelt is joined by a gifted team of staff, and a passionate Board of Directors, including founding board chair Beverly Smith.
Before beginning his career in education, Roosevelt served with the United States Marine Corps. A few highlights of his 23-year tour as a Marine include Instructor at the Drill Instructor School in San Diego, CA, Administrator at the Staff Noncommissioned Officer Academy in Okinawa, Japan, and also in Beaufort, SC, as the director of the Lifelong Learning Center.
Roosevelt has a doctorate in Educational Leadership, a master’s degree in Educational Leadership, a master’s degree in Elementary Education, and a bachelor’s degree in psychology.
Brittny Major-Elechi, M.S.
the daniel christian academy | Rochester, MN | Launched Fall 2023
Brittny is originally from Nassau Bahamas and moved to Rochester Minnesota in 2013. She worked at Mayo Clinic for 7 years as a biostatistician and assistant supervisor before resigning in January 2020 to focus on establishing the Daniel Company and the Daniel Christian Academy. Brittny’s God-given mission in life is to raise up young people that will be committed to Jesus Christ and impact different arenas for His glory. She believes that one of the most powerful ways to do this is through education.
Brittny has a Bachelor’s of Science degree (Mathematics, Physics), Masters of Science in Public Health (Epidemiology and Biostatistics) and is a PhD student (all but dissertation, Bioinformatics and Computational Biology).
Dr. Cherise Easley
up christian academy | Milwaukee, WI | Launched Fall 2023
Dr. Cherise Easley is called to be a change agent for children in the city of Milwaukee. She has over twenty years experience fulfilling several roles as both an educator and community mentor in the city of Milwaukee and surrounding areas. The most predominant roles throughout her tenure includes— teacher, assistant principal and principal in public, charter, private and parochial schools. She has demonstrated great success at leading turnaround schools in some of the most underserved areas.
Dr. Easley is a living testimony of God’s unmerited favor. In 2018 she faced the darkest time in her life. She was labeled with charges of misconduct in public office. Instead of giving up Dr. Easley continued to push forward through the negative press, embarrassment, and insults. She continued to fight for what she believes to be God’s calling on her life. She is a strong believer of Romans 8:28 “And we know that all things work together for the good of them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose”. She is an overcomer and is committed to being a shining light that God’s grace is sufficient and will deliver you through all things.
Additionally, Dr. Easley has served as an educational consultant and provided professional development for NWEA National Data Conferences, Compass Learning, Edgenuity and PBIS just to name a few. She is the Co-Pastor of Urban Praise Ministries and serves as a National officer for Top Ladies of Distinction. Locally, she is member of the Milwaukee section of the National Council of Negro Women and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated. She is most proud of her position as a wife to Pastor Edward Easley of over 20 years and mother to Stephawn and Brooklyn Easley.
Northland Campus (ESI Schools) | Orlando, FL | Launched Fall 2023
Carissa Curran is the Dean of The Ecclesial School at Northland. She is a dedicated and hard-working educator with over 20 years of experience in education. Carissa graduated from Anderson University in 2003 and moved to Florida, where she began her teaching career in Seminole County Public Schools. During her time in Seminole County Public Schools, Carissa received her M.Ed in Reading from Walden University and Educational Leadership degree from the University of Central Florida. During her time in Seminole County, she went from being a teacher to an Instructional Coach, and concluded her time as a school Administrator.
Carissa is a licensed principal with the state of Florida and holds her state licenses in K-6 Elementary Education, K-12 Reading, Exceptional Student Education, English Speakers of Other Languages, and Educational Leadership. She has served on the board of Christians in Public Education for over 7 years where their mission is to encourage those in public education to be Christ followers who are steadfast, immovable, and always abounding in the work of the Lord. Her passion for serving can be seen in her professional and personal life each day as she serves staff and students, as well as her church and community.
St. Albans Campus (ESI Schools) | Orlando, FL | Launched Fall 2023
Jeffrey Andre is the Dean at the Ecclesial School at Saint Alban’s. Jeffrey helped launch the Ecclesial School in 2020 serving on the administrative team as the assistant dean and second and third grade teacher. Jeffrey was first introduced to classical education in 2013 when he joined the faculty of The Geneva School in Winter Park teaching the sixth grade. He graduated with a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in elementary education from the University of Florida’s ProTeach program. Jeffrey has served on the board of the Christian Study Center of Gainesville for over five years where their mission is to intersect faith and academic discourse.
Originally from New York City, Jeffrey and his family have lived in Orlando for the last 10 years. They currently attend Christ United Fellowship (PCA). Jeffrey would call himself a life-long learner with specific interests in theology and children’s books. He loves spending time with his wife Colleen and their three children Linus, Miles, and Esmei. In his leisure, Jeffrey enjoys playing a variety of board games, cycling, and watching the New York Knicks.
Jupiter Chrisitan School, South Campus | Jupiter, FL
Dr. Amanda Champion is an educational leader who advocates for students from low-SES backgrounds and/or with learning differences to be welcomed and included in their Christian school community. Dr. Champion lead a new school launch in the inner-city of West Palm Beach out of a suburban Christian school in Jupiter, FL. She has served for over 22 years in public and private schools working with students of all ability levels, ranging in age from preschool to high school. She also serves as an Adjunct Professor at Palm Beach Atlantic University since 2015 and for 2 years at Jacksonville University.
Dr. Champion frequently presents on the implementation of embedding best practices into the learning environment to cultivate welcoming school communities. Her areas of expertise include differentiated instruction, executive functioning skills, self-regulation, SEL, multi-sensory approaches, and the impact of trauma on the learning environment. She believes all students are capable of reaching their highest God-given potential given the right support and learning environment.
Dr. Champion holds a Ph.D. in Special Education from Liberty University, an M.Ed in Exceptional Student Education, and a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Central Florida. She considers it a blessing to serve with her husband in Christian education, who leads as a High School Principal. They have 5 children and live in south Florida.
southside academy | Rocky Mount, NC | Launched Fall 2022
Southside Academy is a Christian school located at Peacemakers of Rocky Mount, a Christian non-profit community ministry serving low-income families in the south side of Rocky Mount and surrounding areas. Southside Academy exists to foster hope in God within the under-resourced areas of Rocky Mount by providing children with a remarkable, God-centered education. Southside Academy will follow a classical school model with core values of: Christ-Centered, Classical, Fostering a love of learning, nurturing educational environment, Love of history and cultures, creative classroom engagement, and an emphasis on purpose, choices, and character.
Pusch Ridge Christian Academy – South Campus | Tucson, AZ | Launchied Fall 2022
Jonathan Basurto serves as the founding Principal of the new South Campus of Pusch Ridge Christian Academy in S. Tucson, Arizona, the first Christian classical dual language K-12 school in the nation. Students will be immersed in a 90/10 Spanish/ English model, reading, writing, and speaking in both languages; and offers a hands-on Biblical Curriculum — and a mariachi program! — in an emotionally, physically, and spiritually safe school environment. They will start with Kindergarten and First grade, hoping to grow into a full K-12 school.
Jonathon brings both pastoral and educational experience to his leadership at PRCA South. He has served as a youth pastor at Horizon Church Tucson since 2015, and also served as Assistant Principal of Tucson International Academy from 2010-2021
Jonathon is enrolled in a Ph.D. program in educational administration from Columbia International University, where he previously earned an MDiv. In addition to having his principal licensure through ACSI, he holds a B.A. and M.A. from the University of Arizona. He and his family live in Tucson.
IMAGO DEI NEIGHBORHOOD SCHOOL | Richmond, VA | Launched fall 2021
Sara Kennedy is the founding executive director of Imago Dei Neighborhood School. An experienced leader in operations and communications, Sara brings to Imago Dei a passion for the expansion of healthy educational options for families in her community. Her background is primarily in K-12 education, serving eight years on the leadership team at Veritas School and prior to that with Tianjin International School in China. Active in Richmond, she’s been a board member of the Richmond Christian Leadership Institute, teaches courses on history and race in Richmond, and has served in roles with the Attorney General of Virginia and on Capitol Hill.
Diana Beach Batarseh
KING’S ACADEMY | Nashville, TN | Launched fall 2021
King’s Academy is a Pre-K-8th grade independent Christian school in Nashville, Tennessee, providing a classically inspired education to a racially and socioeconomically balanced student body.
Diana is an educator, trainer and presenter, having worked with students PreK through high school. She has a life filled with ministry leadership and Kingdom work aligned with the mission and values of King’s Academy. Diana has mentored and counseled teachers, parents, and church volunteers. She was the Founding Director of Mustard Seed Preschool, a Classical preschool, a ministry of Christ Community in Franklin,TN. Her classroom experience includes teaching at Franklin Classical School, West Harpeth Christian Tutorial, and a leading volunteer at New Hope Academy. As the developer of Ask Me WhoOo, the children’s First Catechism set to music, she uses her musical gifting to teach children about the beauty of God’s truth and creation. Before helping found King’s Academy, she served as Director of Discipleship and Equipping at Christ Community Church.
CHARLESTON CLASSICAL SCHOOL | Charleston, SC | Launched fall 2021
Charleston Classical School exists to serve the children of North Charleston and surrounding areas with a God-centered education.
Marie Owens serves as the Founding visionary. She is a professional biologist (microbiology and immunology) and has been active in classical Christian education for more than twenty years. She learned in the trenches by home educating her four children as well as teaching many other students through virtual courses. Her invaluable start-up experience includes as a founding visionary/owner of a virtual classical Christian academy (Wilson Hill Academy) where she developed the science department and AP curriculum.
The FIELD SCHOOL | Chicago, IL | Launched fall 2017
The Field School is a diverse, classical school that feeds the hearts and minds of children through rigorous study rooted in a Christ-centered environment, currently located in Oak Park and serve families living in Austin, Garfield Park, and many other neighborhoods across Chicago.
Jeremy Mann has served as Head of School since founding The Field School in 2017. He began his career as a special education teacher in a low-income public school in Los Angeles, then worked as a teacher coach in Chicago with Teach For America. He has a B.A. in philosophy and great books from Biola University, an M.A. in special education with an emphasis in urban education from Loyola Marymount University, and an M.Div. from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He is currently a doctoral student in theology at Wheaton College Graduate School. He lives in the Austin neighborhood of Chicago with his wife Erin, a nurse practitioner at Lawndale Christian Health Center, and their four children.
Become a Founder
We believe God can raise up hundreds of visionary leaders to lead new God-centered schools for children of the city. Are you interested in launching a new God-centered school for children of the city? Get in touch.